Butte College high-tech facility broadens opportunity to create

Butte College high-tech facility broadens opportunity to create

BUTTE VALLEY — What’s better as a business owner than to create something useful while doing it efficiently? If you ask Chico resident Chuck Nadeau, owner of MC Fiber Solutions, that happened when a local manufacturing program came up with a way to save Nadeau’s business — and his customers — money.

Nadeau had teamed up with ChicoStart, a business development service, and used a three-dimensional (3D) printer to create a prototype of an important part that would solve his problem. However, he needed help, as well as a larger production plan, to make it effective for his business.

That’s where Butte College’s Create Space came into play. The facility features high-end 3D printers, laser etching and cutting devices, wood routers, metal cutters, electronics, t-shirt printing, specialized large-format printing, and vinyl cutting, among many others.

Nadeau was able to use the Create Space’s machines to manufacture multiple batches of his product — a “fiber cassette” — at a time. A fiber cassette is a small device — 3 inches wide, 6 inches high and half an inch deep — that keeps spliced data fibers in a tidy condition. During one of his batch jobs, a technician discovered a way to increase the machine’s output from 13 to 72 batches at once.

Nadeau was extremely pleased with the results.

“We were able to print a few hundred to meet a deadline for a huge client during the holiday, something I couldn’t even have paid for in the private market,” he said. “I got to do some of the production myself. That was extremely rewarding.”

Nadeau is already designing another product for adaptation and said he plans to utilize 3D modeling and printing for this item as well. (“3D printing” refers to the process of a highly specialized machine manufacturing a tangible, three-dimensional item — not “printing” something in the sense of placing ink onto a surface.)

Butte College used a $500,000 grant to establish the Create Space in fall 2017. Daniel Donnelly, chairman of Butte’s Digital Art and Design department and the Create Space manager, said: “We want this to be a resource for our local businesses and help create prototypes of new technologies while integrating students and faculty into the process.”

Idea Fab Labs, a membership-based private venture in Chico, offers a similar maker space.


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